What a year it’s been!

Blog What a year it’s been!

Dear Calgary Reads friends,

As I reflect on this past year, one word continues to surface: joy. Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.

As we looked for new ways to connect young readers who would benefit from one-on-one time reading with 55+ volunteers, our digital e-wee read program took off.

To see the smiles of children and caring readers connecting—even virtually—brought everyone involved great joy.

Our plans for the return of the Big Book Sale last spring had to change, and though we were disappointed, as so many of you reached out with warm thoughts and then turned up to shop or volunteer at our Little Book Sale in Inglewood in the summer, we experienced the joy of our community.

As we opened the doors to Little Red Reading House, what a thrill it was to again hear the footsteps and squeals of curious and excited children reaching for every book in sight. Joy is what Little Red Reading House was made for.

As we turned to our corporate community for items to donate to the Willow Park Charity Golf Classic live and silent auction, you answered our call. It was the surprise of a lifetime to hear how much your generosity raised $500,000 for our cause, and an incredible relief to know our important work helping children become strong readers could carry on. What a joy, with proceeds from the tournament, to create and unveil our new Little Red Reading Van and to make it affordable again for families to visit the house.

In September, recognizing a great need to get books to children because so many families just can’t afford books right now, we turned to you for help. Through our Back-to-the-Books Campaign in September, hundreds of you gave what you could, and along with an amazing matching opportunity from The Prosser Charitable Foundation, we raised nearly $85,000 to improve book access for young Calgary families.

In November, we unveiled our sixth community reading place—The Sue Mellon Reading Nook—at carya. Having a safe, joyful space to read can make all the difference in helping children come to a love of reading and feel secure in the embrace and words of a caregiver reading aloud.

We were so fortunate to have our Reader-in-Residence and artist Karen Scarlett help bring these spaces to life. Karen has moved on to other adventures but can still be found making art in Inglewood, and we have just welcomed our new Sunday host and Reader-in-Residence Jenna Swift.

Now we are thrilled to be inspiring a new holiday tradition for families and groups—a reverse advent reading calendar to fill boxes with books and other reading essentials. We can’t wait to deliver these book boxes to our community partners!

Of course, keeping our mission and vision alive during uncertain times has brought its challenges, but if you look closely at Calgary Reads and Little Red Reading House, joy is everywhere. And we owe so much of it to you, our community.

We wish you all a happy holiday season filled with love, family and, of course, reading!! EnJOY every moment and never give up on the things that make you smile.

PS – Have you read Ode to Joy – Our Report to Community?